In the most recent case of crime against transgender persons in the country, the decomposed body of Sangeetha, a 55-year-old transgender activist from Saibaba Kovil, Coimbatore, was found in her own apartment on Wednesday morning.
Sangeetha ran a hotel—Covai Trans-Kitchen—in RS Puram, Coimbatore, which employed 12 transgender persons.
The body was found after the owner of Sangeetha’s rented one-bedroom apartment and her friends complained to the police about a putrid smell emanating from the house. The body, covered in a cloth, had been left in a plastic drum used for water storage. The drum was filled with salt, a method used to hasten decomposition, Saibaba Kovil police told HuffPost India.
The gruesome incident has shocked the transgender community in Coimbatore, especially as Sangeetha was known as a “respected humanitarian” in Tamil Nadu’s transgender activist circles. Before opening the mess to employ members of the community, Sangeetha used to head an NGO, Coimbatore Transgender Welfare Trust.
She started the mess just a month ago to help transgender persons whose livelihoods were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, her close associates said. Many trans people in Coimbatore make a living by asking for alms or by taking part in sex work due to the discrimination faced by the community. The pandemic’s social-distancing norms had deprived several trans-persons of their earnings.
Sangeetha, one of the most active members of the community, herself used to beg due to financial hardships, Subhiksha, Joint Secretary of South Indian Transgender Federation, who hails from Coimbatore, told HuffPost India.
“She was a close friend. The last I spoke to her was two days ago,” said Subhiksha. At the time, Sangeetha was planning to help 120 transgender persons by donating provisions of rice, dal and oil. “She had received support from an angel donor and was planning to distribute the donation,” Subhiksha said.
When Subiksha did not hear...